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Terrormaster
07-29-2008, 01:48 PM
Hi Haunters. I'm a small time home haunter in Connecticut and I just wanted to ask some of the pros a question that's been bothering me ever since I moved out this way seven years ago. And since we're all under one roof here I thought this would be the appropriate place to ask.

We've been trying to locate a pro-level haunt in my area that's not operated out of a theme park. We really want to take in an attraction on par with Netherworlds, The Darkness, Haunt World, Spooky Woods, or 13th Gate. I just can't figure out why attractions on those levels just don't seem to exist around here? Are we (Connecticut) really so damn conservative that good haunts have a hard time getting set up here? :confused:

In addition I would love to be able to get to the point of being able to pull something like this off here four or five years down the line after I have enough home haunt experience under my belt and duckies in the bank. But if there's obstacles other than money and talent then I'd like to know what lies ahead. 8)

Thanks,
-TM

SSP
07-29-2008, 06:07 PM
I wonder the same thing sometimes, but it's getting tougher and tougher to do business here. Any thought or attempt of doing something big that I know of has been squashed. I remember Haunted Happenings in Hartford was the biggest thing around for a while but was bought out early from it's contract to be turned into a community college (I talk about this event all the time, have posted here about it once or twice, and don't stop talking about it. I've tried to contact Arnold Chase since, but I guess he doesn't read his fanmail? :( )

We do have the Trail of Terror, and for the amazing contributions that Wayne brings forth every year I'm proud to say they are from here. From what I hear, a great guy and a great bunch of people, look forward to meeting him on the 23rd.

And speaking of shameless self plugs, make sure you check out Graveside Manor, a high tech home haunt on steroids. I'm telling you, it's as much pro as you can pack inside a small place. This might be it's last year, and Jim has about emptied his pockets putting on a show that, in my opinion, tops some pro haunts. But don't take my word for it, come check us out!

www.gravesidemanor.com

or send me a PM

Terrormaster
07-29-2008, 06:40 PM
Gonna have to try and check both of those out this year. We've only really been to Lake Compounce which isn't too bad but feels very static and not interactive enough.

Last year we were in New Orleans visiting my family and decided on going to House of Shock instead of the hour and a half hike to Baton Rouge to do 13th Gate. Big mistake IMHO. I had been to HoS about 10 years ago prior (back when they were $8 bucks to get in). Not sure if it was backlash from Katrina but I must say they've gone down hill in quality. They relied too much on extremely loud sounds and too much physical contact. My wife really hated it. 13th Gate on the other hand I've heard nothing but good stuff about.

So when you say "squashed", can be a little more specific. I'm really trying to get to the bottom of this myself.

Last year I had stopped in to Spirit Halloween the day before they opened. They were nice enough to let us in and look around. I had posed this question to one of the volunteers helping to set up. He said it was his understanding that CT was too conservative and that they really didn't want haunts here because Halloween gave folks an excuse to dress like trailer trash and prostitutes. Basically in the eyes of the public it's too much like Mardi Gras LOL. But if the public really had such a huge problem with it then how does one explain the success of the haunts we do have. Even at Lake Compounce the queue line averages 45 min waits.

I'm guessing even if I had the finances to launch a pro haunt and bring in the talent I'd still be battling the towns and state for location.

-TM

SinisterControls
07-29-2008, 07:40 PM
Definately check out Trail of Terror and Graveside Manor. The Trail started out as a home haunt and has been quite successful. All the while keeping it a charity event. The only thing not Pro about Graveside is the cost to get in. Ya they don't have the budgets the Pros you mention have but its impressive what they pull off. Really looking forward to seeing both these haunts this year as well as Fright Haven, Haunted Graveyard (Compounce), Maximum Terror, and Dark Manor.

Lets show the haunts we have, both pro and home, all the support we can so that maybe the industry will grow in CT.

So, how can we help you out this year?

www.trailofterror.com
www.gravesidemanor.com
www.frighthaven.com
www.hauntedgraveyard.com
www.darkmanorproductions.com
www.maximumterror.com

SSP
07-29-2008, 08:10 PM
Well I can say that Hartford has gone down the shitter, New England's "rising star" isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. I just don't know if there is a location in CT that has enough draw to make such an investment worth it, but for an event of the magnitude you speak of, if you had the money why do it here?

This is all my opinion, I'm hoping someone else chimes in here eventually. I just think it's too expensive to do business here, a lot of businesses are getting the hell out of CT if they can. As for haunts I think you are right about CT frowning on them, not sure why but that's how it seems. If it's not a fundraiser for charity you can forget it.

By the way, I attended the Lake Compounce haunt for the past 4 years or so, and let me say that I don't know why I ever did or continue to. It is the single worst attraction I've ever been to in my entire life, and yet I still fork out the outrageous ticket price so that I can have fun with my friends. I heard it was good once, I've met the guy who started it there, but when he left it became what it is today. Last year I made a pact that I'm done with it for good. Six Flags New England is worse too. If your haunt looks like you've left your props outside in every element of weather for years, haven't added anything new ever, hire anyone who comes along and let everyone wear store bought masks, .... Well lets say that all Six Flags commercials are quite misleading. You go in thinking they must put time into things, and walk out horribly mistaken and confused.

Sorry to bash, but I feel ripped off everytime I go, which even once is enough to say something.

Edit: This year we are scheduling our days at Graveside Manor so that we can take trips to all the other CT haunts, such as Fright Haven, Maximum Terror, and Dark Manor. I can't comment on those because it's hard to find time to visit things when you are working during the month, but I promise to this year. You're right SinisterControls, we need to show support to all the haunts in CT in hopes they can grow and possibly invite new ones to start. So again, sorry for bashing Lake Compounce and Six Flags, maybe it's just my frustration, they have these pieces of land and structures that could easily be something, but it's like they just choose not too and raise the price like it's something special. That is something that will turn people away from haunts in general.

ChrisGM
07-29-2008, 09:26 PM
Maybe a member by the username "ConnecticutGraveyard" will help you! I believe that person was last seen on Haunted Illinois message boards - http:www.hauntedillinois.com/phpbb2

You may want to try and contact, but you have to register first before joining and getting ready to chat! ;)

ChrisGM
07-29-2008, 09:28 PM
Maybe a member by the username "ConnecticutGraveyard" will help you! I believe that person was last seen on Haunted Illinois message boards - http://www.hauntedillinois.com/phpbb2

You may want to try and contact, but you have to register first before joining and getting ready to chat! ;)

spookologist
07-29-2008, 11:48 PM
Well, I think there are a lot of good haunts here in CT. I've been to most. But I think the real issue with Ct is the fact that people have a pretty good selection of out of state haunts to visit within 3 hours or so. We try to go to different places each year and we're pretty busy in Oct. ;) As Luke said, Ct is a pretty hard place to do business, especially our type.

I'm looking forward to finally see Graveside Manor this year, Jim was so kind to invite us up for a showing in Sept...yahooo!! Luke, thanks for the kind words. Are you going to Salem Saturday. Hopefully we'll see you there. We're also going to see the Dark Manor, I heard some good things from that haunt too. We go up to the Haunted Graveyard each year and we have a blast. Ernie and the gang are a lot of fun. Kevin McIntyre's Freaky Funhouse is cool too, He was stuck out in the middle of nowhere last year so he didn't get the buzz needed to have the right kind of atmosphere. Hopefully he'll find a better location. Maximum Terror is very cool also. What a bunch of great guys there too.

So my suggestion is that you take the time to go see all these haunts ( and the ones out of state) and decide for yourself. A volunteer at a spirit shop isn't someone I would base my decision on. Besides, haunters don't shop at Sprit anyway. :D Sorry, just my 2 cents.

Good luck...... Come visit us.

Wayne
www.trailofterror.com

Terrormaster
07-30-2008, 08:24 AM
Thanks everyone. We're definitely planning on checking out Trail of Terror this year and maybe Graveside Manor too if I can take enough time away from prop construction to do two haunts.

So far it looks like operational expenses being high and conservative politics that makes haunting in CT difficult at best. Anyone got any tips or advice on battling those odds?

Wayne, 3 hours drive? Is that really the average demographic radius for haunts? I don't know about others here but for us and nearly all my friends and family (except maybe those who are single still) who traffic haunts, if it's outside of 45 minutes we're not interested. Hell you can go almost anywhere in CT in under 2 hours (give or take 20 minutes due to traffic on I95), at least from Windsor. But honestly I don't know ANYONE who drives up to 3 hours to visit a haunt - especially these days with the cost of gas.

I'd love to see something in Manchester. I feel the demographics are right there and maybe even a few potential locations. But for me starting anything on that scale is currently not possible. And I can only imagine how difficult a business loan is to get for haunted attractions so I won't go there.

-TM

SSP
07-31-2008, 09:39 AM
We were looking into Manchester as a location for going commercial, but ran into so many road blocks it wasn't worth it.

Every year I head up to the Headless Horseman in NY, which is about a 2 and a half hour drive, so I agree with Wayne. There are people not willing to make such a trip, but I think there are a lot more who are. People can't afford big vacations anymore, so why not plan an evening to drive out to a fun event some night? All the more reason to not disappoint.

Wayne, I will be at the ECHC on Sat, I will see you there and look forward to meeting you.

Terrormaster
07-31-2008, 03:07 PM
So again, sorry for bashing Lake Compounce and Six Flags, maybe it's just my frustration, they have these pieces of land and structures that could easily be something, but it's like they just choose not too and raise the price like it's something special. That is something that will turn people away from haunts in general.

See thats my problem with it. When I first went it was pretty good for what it was and had a lot of growth potential. Now I don't go to haunts for gore but it really feels like even the effects are toned down for a "family" atmosfear - everything is static and the few animatronics they have rely on old school techniques which really don't scare people anymore. On a cost:entertainment we just don't feel its worth it for Lake Compounce anymore. Not meaning to bash any haunt, even from a home haunters perspective I have a lot of respect and empathy towards the work that goes into these things. Was just thinking that with the money they pull in and a pretty exclusive demographic they could invest in more modern technology.



We were looking into Manchester as a location for going commercial, but ran into so many road blocks it wasn't worth it.

Really, I'd be curious what you folks ran into, PM me.


Every year I head up to the Headless Horseman in NY, which is about a 2 and a half hour drive, so I agree with Wayne. There are people not willing to make such a trip, but I think there are a lot more who are. People can't afford big vacations anymore, so why not plan an evening to drive out to a fun event some night? All the more reason to not disappoint.

See thats what I don't get. It's understandable for folks like us who are into it so much we dedicate a large portion of our time online to it and are aware of the other haunts. But for the average person, how do the out of state haunts tap into that demographic? I never hear radio ads or see tv spots for anything other than Lake Compounce or Six Flags. I'm sure there's word of mouth and some viral campaigns but how far can that go?

Our biggest problem is not the drive time but leaving our six year old with a sitter for that amount of time, especially in the evening. While my daughter sees all the props I build and will actively let me know what works and doesn't on a scare level she's still not ready for a pro haunt.

-TM

SSP
07-31-2008, 08:08 PM
For me I saw the Headless Horseman banner on Hauntworld when searching for CT haunts, and on the banner it said "rated number 1 in the country". You're right, for someone like us driving out there to visit the number 1 attraction is well worth it in it's own to see what it's all about...

But in my opinion the key is to make your attraction more than just a haunted house and advertise it as more. You need more of an experience than just a 45 minute walk through, sometimes even more than just a haunt. Headless Horseman was all that and more, from the midway with food and gifts, to the side shows and events they held. I am not sure how their advertisement went in NY itself, but I feel that nowadays with gas prices being the way it is, you need to convince people it will be worthwhile to come from all over to visit you, that you will not let them down even if the haunt isn't up to par. You need to give the patrons an all around entertaining and engaging experience, and make sure they know this going into it. Headless didn't say this on the banner I saw though, but it was enough to check out their site and read more into it.

I know there are other attractions that do this, it's all about perceived value. Headless also split up everything into 5-6 haunts, which is incredibly impressive on the ticket, and even more they weren't all walk through haunts, you don't get worn out.

Again I haven't been to many others that do this but I know there's more. I'm just using HH as an example, if you want to convince someone to drive 3 hours to come visit you, let them know that when they come they're not just going to sit in a line for a couple hours and go through a 40 minute haunt and go home, that there will be other things to do, gifts, food, etc.

My parents best compliment of Disney was that it wasn't just oriented towards little kids, it was so entertaining you couldn't help but enjoy it no matter who you are and what your expectations are, plus there's so much to do.